Sole Trader Taking On First Employee

Firstly, congratulations! Your business is growing and you’re thinking about taking someone on to help you with the day-to-day business demands.

You’ve looked at the ‘benefits and opportunities’ that investing in skills development and training can bring to your business. You’ve reflected on the ‘questions to consider’ and reviewed your business plan if you have one. Now you’re looking to take the next step.


An apprenticeship could be the solution to recruiting your first employee. It’s a great way to bring in someone new who will come with a passion to learn everything about your business, your brand and your vision.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship in the UK is a paid job with a contract of employment, where the employee learns and gains valuable experience while working.

Apprenticeships are suitable for people at any age and any level so you can hire someone new or upskill an existing employee. This will allow you to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. You’re training someone in the skills you need and that are relevant to your workplace, and showing a commitment to ongoing learning and development.

Use this guide to find out more about apprenticeships and the benefits to your business.

What do you need to do to recruit an apprentice?

There are several steps you need to take when recruiting an apprentice. You can find those and our top tips at this link. However, as a sole trader recruiting your first employee, you need to register as an employer and get your PAYE number before you go any further.

Register as an employer and get your PAYE number

Hiring an apprentice is the same as hiring any new employee. There are a few things you need to do before you can employ someone. Firstly, consider whether you need someone full or part-time, and check whether you can afford them. As well as salary, you need to consider things like National Insurance, sick pay and pension. You’ll also need to make sure your workplace is safe for employees and take out employers’ liability insurance.

Once you’ve established what you want and that you can afford it, you need to register as an employer and get your PAYE number.

You can find out more detail about all of this, what to do and how to do it here.

Other Training

If apprenticeships are not the right recruitment solution for your business at this time, you may still need to train any newly recruited staff or explore training for yourself. For example, you might need to carry out an induction into the organisation and the role, or any industry required training.

Finding the right course and training provider

You may know other businesses in the same sector as you or in the same area. Why not ask them for any recommendations?

You can also search online using a search engine. Depending on the type of course you are looking for, that could result in hundreds of results, or just a couple. Shop for training in the same way as you would anything on the internet. Some things to consider:

  • does the training need to be in person, or could it be online?
  • can your employees travel if it’s in person?
  • do you want or need to buy local?
  • what’s your budget?
  • do some due diligence. Check out Trust Pilot or Google reviews of the business.
  • shop around. Speak to a few providers. Get a sense of what they’re offering and if their offer works for you.

Sussex Council of Training Providers (SCTP) is the training provider network for Sussex with over 90 members, including independent training providers, further education colleges and universities. If you would like to be introduced to training providers who can deliver the training you are looking for, please email us on

Here are national sources of free accredited e-learning courses:

Some training providers are fully commercial, and you will need to pay for the training courses that they offer. Some providers receive government funding and courses may be free or partially funded. Some providers may be a hybrid of both. We recommend you speak to the provider to find out if there is any funding towards the cost of the course.

Now that you have looked at the different options available, had back over to the Transform Skills Toolkit home page to find out about useful support agencies and websites that can help your business.